Welcome to the People’s EIS

Signing submissions in Newtown. There will be M4/M5 stalls all over Sydney. Look out for one in your area. Photo by Lorrie Graham

The WestCONnex M4/M5 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)  was released by NSW Planning on Friday 18 August. We only have until October 16 to comment so it’s time to launch our M4/M5 People’s EIS.

Many people have expressed grave concern about the planning processes in NSW, particularly for large infrastructure projects such as WestCONnex. This website exists to help people take back some control over the planning process. It is run entirely by volunteers and is supported by grassroots community organisations campaigning against WestCONnex.

The People’s EIS is a project of the Coalition against WestCONnex. Our aim is to help people access information needed to understand how the NSW Berejiklian government’s 33 kilometre tollway risks not just future mobility in Sydney but also our future environment and health. The People’s M4/M5 EIS is part of a broader community campaign to open up public debate about WestCONnex and counter the lack of transparency in decision-making that will affect the lives of millions of people in decades to come.

WestCONnex is a privatised tollroad network across Sydney to be delivered in separate stages. If you read the EIS, you will find that it is heavily biased towards approval.  You could describe it as a toll road project made for big business, searching for a rationale.

Since WestCONnex was first announced, the tollways have changed routes and grown limbs several times.  The NSW Berejiklian government admits the project has blown out to a massive $17 billion. In fact,  it will cost much more. The government refuses to explain how much extra acquisitions, changes of route and extra road works made necessary by WestCONnex will add to the $16.8 billion. The government also has not included the costs of social  and environmental impacts of the project.  While the NSW government PR machine proclaims the benefits of WestCONnex, the negative impacts of the whole project have never been assessed.

It is also disturbing  that the NSW government is proceeding with plans to privatise the Sydney Motorway Corporation. It has already turned it into a complicated private structure and removed the SMC from the reach of the NSW freedom of information law, known as the Government Information (Public Access)  Act. SMC is effectively a secret organisation.

The first People’s EIS site was the People’s M4 East EIS. Despite 5000 responses including expert commentary questioning everything from the basic assumptions underpinning the traffic analysis to the destruction of scores of heritage homes in Haberfield, the then Minister for Planning Rob Stokes approved the project.

The second People’s EIS site was the People’s M5 EIS.  The WestCONnex M5 East was released in early December 2015 with a consultation period that ended a day after NSW students went back to school at the end of January 2016.  A record 12,000 responses were submitted, 99% of which objected to the project. The City of Sydney declared the EIS to be profoundly inadequate. Minister Stokes again rushed to approve it.

These two stages of WestCONnex have begun. There has been massive devastation, including hundreds of homes and thousands of trees lost in Haberfield and St Peters. The mainstream media are now publishing a stream of stories about the impacts of WestCONnex.

But while it is true that WestCONnex has well and truly begun, it is also true that the community campaign against the tollroads is growing. The public is waking up to the fact that rather than being a solution to traffic congestion, WestCONnex is a profit driven waste of resources that is destroying huge swathes of our city.  Thousands of residents of Western Sydney have realised that they’ll be paying for tollways across Sydney for decades while their communities continue to suffer from a chronic lack of public transport.

Even NSW Planning recognises that the Major Projects Assessment process has major problems and is now reviewing it. But meanwhile it is pushing ahead to approve more projects and has given community, Councils and other stakeholders only 60 days to respond to the just released M4/M5 EIS.

This site aims to explain and provide ideas about how the respond to the EIS; how to pass information on to your own community; and how you can join the fight to stop not just this proposal but the corrupted planning process on which it is based.

Read more about how you can get involved and how you can write your own submission and submit it. Read one of our sample submissions.  This one is on the  EIS Social and Economics Report . If you have more points you would like to add to our sample submissions contact info@westconnexactiongroup.com